Home Latest Insights | News BudgIT Reveals N732.5 Billion Allocation for Vague Empowerment Projects in the 2024 Budget

BudgIT Reveals N732.5 Billion Allocation for Vague Empowerment Projects in the 2024 Budget

BudgIT Reveals N732.5 Billion Allocation for Vague Empowerment Projects in the 2024 Budget

BudgIT, a civic tech organization, has revealed an alarming allocation of N732.5 billion for vague empowerment projects in Nigeria’s 2024 budget.

This revelation comes at a time when Nigeria is grappling with severe economic challenges and escalating public debt, raising concerns about the federal government’s spending priorities.

According to a statement released by BudgIT on Monday, the funds allocated for these empowerment projects exceed the N646.5 billion earmarked for health projects.

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This discrepancy is particularly concerning given Nigeria’s status as the country with the second-highest child mortality rate in the world as of 2023. The organization criticized the government’s lack of focus on critical health emergencies, which are not adequately addressed in the 2024 budget.

“Empowerment projects are vague and challenging to track due to their nature. They are also used as a funnel to transfer public resources to party loyalists, resulting in the misuse of public funds,” BudgIT stated.

4,440 Empowerment Projects Identified

Tracka, BudgIT’s open-source service delivery monitoring platform, discovered a total of 4,440 empowerment projects in the 2024 budget. Initially limited to constituency projects, these empowerment projects have gradually infiltrated capital projects through insertions by the National Assembly. BudgIT highlights this as a problematic trend, considering Nigeria’s vast infrastructure gaps and persistent budget deficits.

“For instance, the National Assembly inserted 7,447 projects valued at N2.24 trillion in the 2024 budget. Tracka identifies this as a problematic trend, considering the nation’s huge infrastructure gap and budget deficits,” the organization noted.

Misallocation of Projects

Further analysis of the budget revealed that over 2,558 projects worth N624 billion were allocated to agencies outside their mandates. An example is the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), which allocated N5 billion for the procurement and distribution of official vehicles to traditional rulers—an activity far removed from its primary responsibilities. Similarly, the Nigeria Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NiOMR) was assigned N2.32 billion to construct a 3.5km road.

Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s Country Director, expressed concern over this misallocation.

“The implications of assigning projects to agencies outside of their mandate undermine the monitoring, evaluation, and sustainability of these projects. These agencies lack the expertise and personnel to ensure quality service delivery, leading to underperformance and a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

BudgIT has called on anti-graft agencies to investigate these anomalies in the 2024 budget to prevent the diversion, misappropriation, and embezzlement of public funds. The organization also urged elected representatives and government agencies to provide timely updates to the public and ensure the effective implementation of these projects.

“We call on anti-graft agencies to probe these anomalies in the 2024 budget to forestall diversion, misappropriation, and embezzlement. It is imperative that elected representatives and MDAs provide timely updates to the public and ensure the quality implementation of these projects so that Nigerians derive maximum benefit from public funds,” BudgIT stated.

Borrowing for Embezzlement

These findings have alluded to the belief that a significant portion of the national budget goes into private pockets yearly. It is also coming at a time when the government is seeking financial relief from various sources, including international agreements and increased borrowing.

Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reveals that the federal government’s borrowing through Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTBs) rose by 188 percent year-on-year to N13.235 trillion by May 2024. From 2015 to 2024, Nigeria’s public debt profile surged from N12 trillion to N121 trillion, with little visible improvement in infrastructure or public services.

The increasing debt burden has significantly strained Nigeria’s fiscal position, with debt-servicing costs rising by N1.56 trillion in a year. This has forced a 33 percent reduction in funding for capital projects, exacerbating the country’s infrastructure deficits and unfunded deficits reaching almost N1 trillion for the first time in history.

Growing Demand for Accountability

The findings by BudgIT have intensified public outcry over the management of Nigeria’s finances. A recent court order for former Humanitarian Minister Sadiya Umar-Farooq to account for N729 billion highlights the persistent issues of financial mismanagement and lack of accountability.

The All Progressive Congress (APC) led government has been asked by Nigerians to account for the humungous loans.

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